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Weston McKennie was suspended for two games and sent back to Italy early after breaching the U.S. men’s national soccer team's COVID-19 bubble twice, according to reports.
McKennie spent a night outside the team hotel, ESPN.com reported. TUDN’s “Hablemos Soccer” podcast said he also had an unauthorized visitor in his hotel room on another night. It’s not clear when, or where, the violations occurred.
“A lot of the questions is starting to get into information that's 'not need to know,’ ” coach Gregg Berhalter said Tuesday. “It's a team matter. This is stuff that happens within the team that’s not appropriate to share to the outside world.”
Asked specifically whether the ESPN report was accurate, Berhalter doubled down on his stance.
“This is along the lines of information that's not 'need to know,’ ” Berhalter said. “This is a team environment. Any conversations will remain between the team and I, and the team and the staff and the team and Weston. That’s how we’ll leave it. He violated policy. That's as far as I'll go with that.”
Berhalter said Monday that McKennie would not play in Wednesday night’s game in Honduras, which has taken on greater importance with the USMNT managing only two points in its first two games. McKennie had previously been suspended for Sunday’s game against Canada, which the midfielder said on his Instagram story was for breaking COVID-19 protocols.
“We made this decision not only for the short term, but for the long-term health of the program. And it's not an easy decision,” Berhalter said. “We did it for what we think is the good of the group, and good of the team.”
McKennie is one of the key players on the U.S. men’s team. This is not the first time he’s been disciplined for violating COVID protocols, however. Juventus suspended him for the Turin derby in April after he had a party at his house, which violated both rules against parties and the national curfew.
Berhalter said McKennie apologized to him and the team. He also said this won’t have any bearing on McKennie’s future with the USMNT.
“There's very rarely going to be a situation where a player would never be allowed back into national team camp. That’s not how we operate,” Berhalter said. “He's a big part of the team, and I'm sure when he's performing well, he’ll be back with the team.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weston McKennie violated USMNT COVID protocols twice, per reports